Called to Change Lives…and Be Changed

Submitted by Robin May, Guest Writer

I mentioned earlier this week as I began documenting The Crossing’s trip to Harmons, Jamaica that the organization who coordinated our trip, Won By One, has a motto: “changing lives by changing lives.” I believe God did just that; He changed lives in a divine way that only God could have designed.

First, He brought together a group of 47 people, most of whom on the departure day for this trip were still strangers. Even the majority of the teenagers on the trip didn’t know one another well. In other words, God had not called a particularly close “clique” from The Crossing to serve together in Jamaica. He called each one of us individually, with our unique talents and perspectives. He stirred each of our hearts and drew us each into this particular trip.

Like everything with His handprint on it, our group ended up with just the right synergistic energy we needed to accomplish the physical work we did for the Jamaicans. Meanwhile, as we served and developed relationships with the Jamaicans and with each other, answering the many prayers that must have been lifted up to The Almighty, God did His work in each of us.

Looking back on it, it was truly by God’s grace that we were able to love one another so quickly and so deeply. I wonder if the conditions had something to do with it. Stripped of the masks we hide behind most of our lives, left with only a pair of sweaty shorts and a t-shirt, we were exposed. With 21 women in a dorm room and one bathroom (which had two sinks, two toilets and two showers), I never once heard a cross word uttered as we waited each day to take our two-minute shower. Clearly, only God can be responsible for this miracle!

We began and ended each day with a focused and intentional time of sharing, worship, Bible study and prayer. During our daily time in God’s Word, the Won By One staff led us in a study of the familiar story of Zacchaeus meeting Jesus (Luke 19:1-9). As each day went by, this story came to life in various ways. We explored how we were like Jesus in the story, just passing through the community of Harmons, and asked ourselves, “What did Jesus do while He was passing through Jericho? How can we make an impact in a community where we don’t live?“ We studied and discussed to what lengths Zacchaeus went to see Jesus, and reflected on how far we would go in order to meet Jesus ourselves. And finally, we talked about how the rich man Zacchaeus, a man who once worshipped money, was so changed by meeting Jesus that he willingly gave much of his wealth away. This challenged us to really think about what we are willing to do with our wealth in order to be a disciple of Christ.

As we studied the account of Zacchaeus meeting Jesus, the Word spoke to us and gave us new eyes with which to go out into the community. We began to be more aware of the presence of Jesus all around us. Some of the most memorable moments of the trip for me were in the quiet times at day’s end, when our group talked through our days and shared with each other where we saw the love of Christ reflected, both in the Jamaicans and in each other as we all worked side by side.

While some lessons seem obvious, I suspect those of us who went on this mission trip will be discovering for months to come the things that God is teaching us through this experience. What I do know is that a week with the Jamaicans taught me the importance of not just quickly passing through, but rather the joy in lingering for a conversation, the delight of watching for – and seeing! – Jesus in the words, actions and faces of others, and eternal value of being in relationship, even if you are just passing through. Like Jesus did with Zacchaeus, we were all invited into the homes of Harmons residents for a dinner they had prepared for us. And like Zacchaeus, though the time we spent with the Jamaicans was short, I think we would all agree our time there changed us.

For one week, we were able to love more unconditionally – both one another and the people we came to minister to. Without the distractions of ourselves and the pursuits of the American Dream, God allowed us the privilege of aligning our will with His, and to simply come alongside Him to work for His glory. It was breathtaking.

1 Peter 1:3-4
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

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